More Chinese firms get mega construction deals

A Chinese contractor during launch of a road project in Kitui. PHOTO/THOMAS WAITA
A Chinese contractor during launch of a road project in Kitui. PHOTO/THOMAS WAITA 

Chinese contractors have firmed up their control of mega construction tenders even as local contractors decry lack of support from the national government.

The China Railway 21st Bureau Group will build a 20-kilometre dual carriageway between Athi River and the Machakos turnoff at a cost of Sh5.3 billion while Jiangxi Zhongmei Engineering Construction has clinched a tender to rehabilitate the Kakamega-Webuye section of the Kisumu-Kitale road.

The dual carriage way project is meant to ease traffic congestion and speed up transportation of goods and people between Nairobi and Machakos.

“The project is financed by the government and the World Bank Group under the ‘Kenya Transport Sector Support Project’, and will take a period of 18 months to complete,” said the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) director- general, Peter Mundinia.

The tender award comes after the government said Tuesday that it is ready to pay Sh17 billion owed to road contractors this week, a move expected to boost confidence in the public private partnership initiatives.

According to the project design, traffic flow will be eased in-bound from Machakos turnoff and out from Athi River and the Northern Corridor from Mombasa to Nairobi.

The project will cut the travel time between the capital and Machakos.

The KeNHA said that the dualling project will complement the ongoing construction and capacity enhancement of James Gichuru junction to Rironi, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Likoni Road and Likoni Road junction to James Gichuru junction.

Work on the Kakamega-Webuye section of the Kisumu-Kitale road had stopped after Malava residents earlier this year moved to court after a protracted row emerged between the contractor, Vil Limited, and the KeNHA.

The row was, however, cleared by a High Court last May allowing another contractor to be appointed to continue the construction.

The KeNHA was to first offset a Sh41 million debt owed to Vil Limited before officially replacing it as the contractor for that stretch.

By the time the matter was going to court, the national highway agency had already paid Sh12 million to the said contractor, according to court documents.